TBR Thursday 101…

Episode 101…

Remarkably, despite my ongoing Moby-Dick inspired reading slump, the TBR has remained static on 181. This is because I have resisted all of NetGalley’s temptations for several weeks now. Of course I still have a massive backlog of review copies to clear though – 38 at the current count!

Here are a few I hope to get to soon…

Factual

welcome-to-the-universeCourtesy of Princeton University Press. It’s more than possible this will be way over my poor befuddled head, but it sounds great, so fingers crossed…

The Blurb says: Welcome to the Universe is a personal guided tour of the cosmos by three of today’s leading astrophysicists. Inspired by the enormously popular introductory astronomy course that Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael A. Strauss, and J. Richard Gott taught together at Princeton, this book covers it all–from planets, stars, and galaxies to black holes, wormholes, and time travel.

Describing the latest discoveries in astrophysics, the informative and entertaining narrative propels you from our home solar system to the outermost frontiers of space. How do stars live and die? Why did Pluto lose its planetary status? What are the prospects of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe? How did the universe begin? Why is it expanding and why is its expansion accelerating? Is our universe alone or part of an infinite multiverse? Answering these and many other questions, the authors open your eyes to the wonders of the cosmos, sharing their knowledge of how the universe works.

Breathtaking in scope and stunningly illustrated throughout, Welcome to the Universe is for those who hunger for insights into our evolving universe that only world-class astrophysicists can provide.

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Classics Club – Crime

the-wheel-spinsThe book on which the movie The Lady Vanishes is based, this is one of my Classics Club selections and will also give me an excuse to rewatch one or more versions of the film…

The Blurb says:  Iris Carr is a beautiful, young socialite on her way back home to England after vacationing in Europe. Feeling terribly alone and afraid, she finds comfort in the company of a strange woman she knows only as Miss Froy. But comfort soon turns to horror when Miss Froy mysteriously vanishes without a trace. Fearing madness, risking death, Iris desperately tries to solve the sudden disappearance of her traveling companion-a woman no one else on the journey remembers seeing at all!

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Fiction

gileadThe Great American Novel Quest is in serious trouble after a series of what I shall euphemistically call less than stellar reads – Absalom! Absalom!, Americanah and the ongoing Moby-Dick débâcle. I wish I could convince myself Gilead is the book which will turn it around…

The Blurb says: A hymn of praise and lamentation from a 1950s preacher man. A testament to the sacred bonds between fathers and sons. A psalm of celebration and acceptance of the best and the worst that the world has to offer. This is the story of generations, as told through a family history written by Reverend John Ames, a legacy for the young son he will never see grow up. As John records the tale of the rift between his own father and grandfather, he also struggles with the return to his small town of a friend’s prodigal son in search of forgiveness and redemption.

The winner of two major literary awards and a New York Times Top 10 Book of 2004, Gilead is an exquisitely written work of literary fiction, destined to become a classic, by one of today’s finest writers.

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Fiction

sandlandsI’ve seen several glowing reviews for this collection (sorry, I didn’t take a note of which bloggers) and left a comment on one saying I must read it, after which the author contacted me and kindly offered me a copy. Sounds wonderful…

The Blurb says: This beautifully written short story collection is inspired by coastal England, by the landscape and its flora and fauna, as well as by its folklore and historical and cultural heritage. Several of the stories focus on a bird, animal, wildflower, or insect characteristic of the locality, from barn owl to butterfly. The book might be described as a collection of ghost stories; in fact, while one or two stories involve a more or less supernatural element, each of them deals in various ways with the tug of the past upon the present, and explores how past and present can intersect in unexpected ways.

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Horror on audio

monster-1983Courtesy of Audible via MidasPR. Although I haven’t been listening to many audiobooks recently, I couldn’t resist this one when it was offered. I’ve enjoyed some of these full cast audio presentations in the past – they keep my attention better than most straight narrations, and this one has the delectable Marc Warren in it… they always describe him as “from Hustle” but he’ll always be Monks from Alan Bleasdale’s weird but oddly wonderful adaptation of Oliver Twist to me…

The Blurb says: Catalysing the surge of interest in classic 70s and 80s sci-fi thrillers, and just in time for Halloween, Audible tomorrow exclusively debuts Monster 1983, an original audio-drama from Berlinale-winning director Ivan Leon Menger. Directed by multiple-Audie and RPA winner Cherry Cookson, the chilling tale stars Callum Blue (Dead Like Me), Anastasia Griffith (Damages) and Marc Warren (Hustle) amongst others.

Drawing influences from Poltergeist, Stand By Me and E.T. and other Spielberg classics, the story unfolds in the small coastal town of Harmony Bay, Oregon. Still reeling from a sudden and profound family tragedy, Sheriff Cody uproots his elder son Michael, and younger daughter Amy, from the chaos of Orlando to begin a new, more relaxed life in the Beaver State. Soon after their arrival however, this new-found tranquillity is disturbed by a succession of brutal but mysterious deaths. As the plot twists and turns its way through small-town secrecy, psychiatry wards and the supernatural, Cody comes under increasing pressure to solve each new case whilst keeping his family safe from harm.

* * * * *

NB All blurbs taken from Goodreads, except for Monster 1983, which is taken from the publicity release.

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So…what do you think? Do any of these tempt you?

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58 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 101…

  1. I salute you, FictionFan, for standing fast against temptation! Most impressive, I think. As to what you’ve got here, that Thornton collection sounds great. And so does The Wheel Spins. I haven’t read as many of those old classics just lately, and I think it’s always good to keep in touch with them, so to speak. I’ll be interested to know what you think of that one. In the meantime, stay strong and keep resisting temptation! 😉

    • Thank you! I really must try to stop adding – it becomes ridiculous after a bit. But we’ll see how long my willpower lasts… 😉 Every review I’ve seen of the Thornton suggests it’s something special, so I’m really looking forward to it. And The Wheel Spins, which has been on my list for ages! One of the good things about not enjoyng the current domestic thriller trend is that I’ve been driven back to reading some of the classics…

    • Well, that’s good news! I was looking forward to it, but my disappointment in the last few I’ve read have made me wary. Hopefully Gilead will bring back my enthusiasm for the quest…

  2. Well, after chopping off 100+ books from my Goodreads TBR the past few weeks, you’ve made me add one! I am very much interested in Welcome to the Universe. I need to make more time for nonfiction. I read quiet a few memoirs but need some more science, nature, and history.

    • Oh good! I’d recommend you get the paper copy – there’s lots of illustrations and diagrams, and it looks beautifully produced, though I’ve only flicked through it so far. I’m hoping it won’t be too far over my head. I’ve reached a point where I’m enjoying non-fiction at least as much as fiction at the moment – maybe more. Hope you enjoy this one, if you get a chance to read it. 🙂

    • The Rosy Thornton sounds great! Totally agree – the looming 200 is really helping with my willpower and now I’m getting used to saying no it’s actually getting easier. Now I just have to get out of my slump…

  3. Oooh… the first sounds good! Tyson has a clear way of speaking/writing that can make the weirdest theological stuff intelligible. He chooses good analogies and his enthusiasm is infectious. 😀

    I can’t wait for your review of Gilead! That was my most loathed book from the summer reading last year. It’s back on the shelf for another go in a decade or so. Sometimes you just have to read a book at the right time and Gilead has beautiful passages if nothing else. I hope you enjoy it far more than I did!

    • Doesn’t it? And I thought being an “introductory” course hopefully it’ll be aimed at a level I can cope with. I’m really looking forward to it!

      Haha! So far, I’ve had one commenter enthusing about it and now you… er… not enthusing! I’ve been putting it off for ages because lots of people talk about all the Biblical references in it, and I won’t get them. The plan was I’d read the Bible sometime, but that plan seems to have ground to a halt again. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and Google switched on…

    • I keep putting Gilead off – it does appeal to me, but always seems to get a mixed reaction. On the upside it’s got to be better than some of my recent Great American Novel quest attempts! Welcome to the Universe looks great, and if you do decide to go for it, I really recommend getting the paper version rather than the e-book. It’s got loads of illustrations and diagrams and so, which I always find work better on paper…

  4. I’ve read “The Wheel Spins” and loved it – I went through a White “phase” in my teens, and the Thornton sounds good. Good luck with keeping the TBR under control!

    • That’s good to hear! I read one of her short stories not so long ago in one of those British Library anthologies and enjoyed it thoroughly, so I have high hopes. The Thornton does sound good – looking forward to it. The TBR would be doing better if I wasn’t becalmed in the Pacific with Ahab and his buddies…

    • I’m looking forward to it too – it had a little spate of reviews and they were all glowing, all from people I trust. And I’m getting more into short story collections – it was something I used to rather avoid. Hope we both enjoy it! 🙂

  5. Oh. Dear. Me. You’ve got such a GOOD selection here that it’s hard to pick a favorite. No wonder your TBR keeps growing!! I haven’t read Gilead, but it’s probably better than Moby. The Wheel Spins sounds fascinating, as do the audio book and the short stories. Of course, I’m partial to owls, you see!!

    • It’s awful, isn’t it? I’m glad you see it’s not my fault. 😉 Haha! Almost anything must be better than Moby – except possibly Faulkner! But Gilead does sound good, so fingers crossed. The short stories have attracted several glowing reviews from people I trust, so I have high hopes. And The Wheel Spins will probably be good, but even if it isn’t it gives me a great excuse to watch the film again… 🙂

  6. Welcome to the Universe sounds pretty cool. And Sandlands sounds nice – it looks like the author of that one is on the ball!
    I’ll be interested to see what you think of Gilead. Some people seem to love it, while others not so much. Hopefully, you’ll love it!

    • I’m really looking forward to Wecome to the Universe – just hoping it’s pitched at a level I can understand, which isn’t always the case with science books. Sandlands has had some great reviews, and sounds like your kind of thing actually. Yes, I like when an author finds a way to find reviewers who read their kind of book – so often I get offered stuff that just isn’t for me, romances or kids’ books, and I wonder why the author thinks I’d like it…

      Yes, Gilead could go either way with me, I feel, but I have my fingers crossed. I need a good GAN Quest book soon… 🙂

  7. Love your blog…and dark chocolate:) I don’t think I’ve heard of most of these books, but The Wheel Spins sounds good. I’m slowly but surely working on my TBR list and trying to stay off Netgalley for now

    • Thank you! Ah, another chocolate fan – always welcome, especially dark chocolate fans since that means I get to keep all the milk chocolates to myself! 😉 The Wheel Spins should be good, but even if it isn’t it gives me a good excuse to watch the film again. I know – NetGalley is great, but it’s so easy to end up with more books than we could possibly read, and then it begins to feel almost like a job. I’m trying to get back to having a better balance of old and new… 🙂

      • Exactly, I really started blogging as just a fun hobby and with picking too many books from Netgalley, especially if I might not like them once I start reading, I feel like I’m making it more of a job. So I’m scaling way back

        • Yes, me too – sometimes I have to step back for a week or two when it begins to feel more like work than fun. I’m also trying to train myself to abandon review books earlier if they’re not working for me – I used to feel an obligation to finish and review them all.

          • I’ve been doing that lately with Netgalley books which probably doesn’t help my ratings or whatever with them but I just can’t read books I’m not into even though I’m supposed to review them. Then it does feel like a job and it’s not fun.

            • I don’t think they mind so long as you send feedback saying why you didn’t like it – it doesn’t seem to affect whether they give me books in the future. In fact, I always assume they’d rather that than getting a negative review, but who knows how publisher’s minds work! 😉

            • It seems to be pretty random whether you get approved or declined. My blogging buddy Lady Fancifull reckons that sometimes they must just decide to give out a certain number so it becomes first come, first served, and I suspect she’s probably right. It can be annoying if it’s an author you love though.

            • I agree, I was hoping to get Her Every Fear recently but I was just able to put it on my wish list. That’s one I’m looking forward to. Any on your list you are really looking forward to?

            • I was hoping for the new Ian Rankin, Rather be the Devil, but it’s been sitting in Pending for weeks so I’m gueesing I’m not getting it, especially since publication date is this week. I may have to actually buy it! *faints*

  8. I think Welcome to the Universe sounds great, The Wheel Spins sounds interesting, I loved Sandlands and I enjoyed Gilead – although I took my time reading because you do have to concentrate and not rush to find out what happened and I think I would probably get even more out of it on a second reading, especially for the philosophical and religious ideas. But I decided I didn’t want to re-read it and haven’t kept it – so not that enticing! It was one of my book group choices and most people there liked it. Monster 1983 tempts me, although I don’t often listen to audiobooks – it’s funny but I feel I should be doing the ironing or something if I sit down to listen rather than watch something, why should that be???

    • I’m just about to start Welcome to the Universe so here’s hoping! It’s a lovely book to look at, and kinda huge! Ah, yours must have been one of the reviews that inspired me to try Sandlands – I read two or three in the space of a few weeks and they were all positive about it. Gilead could go either way for me, I feel – the reviews seem very mixed, but everyone seems agreed on the quality of the writing and that usually carries me over any other bits that don’t work as well.

      I don’t know if I’ll get time to listen to Monster 1983, but it sounds good. Ha! I know what you mean! If I try just listening without doing anything I fall asleep! I used to listen to loads of books when I had a long commute but I’m never in the car for long enough now – and I refuse to do ironing… 😉

  9. None of these tempt me, but that’s a good thing, esp as I’m off on a book-truffling trip with a friend tomorrow.

    I have THREE new NetGalley reads which is a bit shocking for me – offered one then spotted the other two, won them all! I asked this on my own blog with no reply – two of the books are published in a good few months’ time and I’m not supposed to review them until the publication date of one and at most 30 days before the publication date of the other. Is this common, and what do you do then, read and review then schedule your review post for waaaaayy in the future?

    • Book-truffling! Ooh, what a lovely thought!

      Personally I don’t read them till near the publication date and it’s rare for me to review before they’re published. A lot of the publishers don’t want early reviews – rightly, I think, because people will have forgotten them by the time book is released. So the book has quite often been archived on NetGalley before I’m able to send feedback, but the publishers don’t seem to mind – they certainly still give me other books anyway. Because I’ve allowed a backlog to develop, I’m usually reviewing way after the publication date, but my plan is always to put the review out within 14 days before or after publication – if only I could get back to that!

  10. I’ve read Housekeeping but not Gilead. After I’d read it I remember thinking I had probably read it too fast and that a slow read might have been better idea. The universe one sounds great but my ability to absorb these kinds of books is ridiculously limited. I seem to struggle to process them.

    • I’m not very good at slow reading, though I often wish I was. I tend to find that if I’m reading slowly it’s because I’m not enjoying the book. Gilead could go either way for me, I feel… we’ll see! Yeah, I don’t absorb science at all! I’ve read loads of books about the universe and suchlike now, but each one feels like it’s all new again. I’ve even almost grasped the Theory of Relativity a few times – and then a couple of days later it’s gone again… I like to think it’s because my brain is overfull! 😉

  11. I liked Gilead a lot but I feel a little nervous about whether or not you’ll enjoy it! It’s rather slow and doesn’t have much of a plot but it is beautifully written.

    • Beautiful writing usually goes a long way to reconciling me to any other things that might appeal less. My real fear is that not knowing the Bible means I’ll miss most of the references. I really intended to read the Bible first, but somehow it just hasn’t happened…

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